Brooklyn Brewery and Danish brewer Carlsberg have announced yet another international craft brewing partnership — this time in Eastern Europe.
The two companies have formed a joint venture with Švyturys Brewery, based in the port city of Klaipėda, Lithuania.
Specific financial terms of the deal – Brooklyn’s first in the region — were not disclosed, but brewery president Robin Ottaway told Brewbound that the JV would be structured “just like all the others” his company has embarked on with Carlsberg.
The deal with Švyturys marks Brooklyn’s sixth international craft brewing venture, and its fifth with Carlsberg. It’s also the third international JV announcement the two companies have made in the last 12 days.
“At one point it looked like all three were going to be announced on the same day, but then last-minute changes spread them out a little,” Ottaway wrote to Brewbound via email.
Last week, Brooklyn Brewery and Carlsberg jointly announced the acquisition of London Fields Brewery, based in the United Kingdom, in a deal worth a reported $5.2 million.
Brooklyn and Carlsberg are also partnering on the formation of HK Yau Brewing Company in Hong Kong. Previously, the two companies teamed up on the 2015 rebuild of the E.C. Dahls Brewery in Trondheim, Norway, and the 2013 opening of The New Carnegie Brewery in Stockholm, Sweden.
According to Ottaway, some of those projects came together over the last nine months, while others have taken “a few years.”
“I think we’re due for a breather now,” he wrote.
Brooklyn, which sold a 24.5 percent minority stake to Japan’s Kirin Brewery last October, also operates South Korea’s Jeju Brewing Company, which it launched in April 2016.
So what’s Brooklyn’s interest in Lithuania?
“The Baltics, while tiny, are interesting markets as craft has long been present, albeit less in modern IPAs and more in local traditional styles using interesting yeasts, malts, and local herbs, fruits, and spices,” Ottaway told Brewbound. “We thought getting a chance to experience that world would be a lot of fun.”
In a blog post, Brooklyn characterized Klaipėda as a “vibrant artistic community,” with “wild weather, and a surprisingly robust craft beer community.”
According to Brooklyn Brewery CEO Eric Ottaway, craft beer already makes up 10 percent of the Lithuanian beer market, and that is growing.
“Lithuania as a whole is experiencing the most productive portion of their own craft beer revolution, and Svyturys has consistently been at the front of this wave with top-quality and delicious beers,” the company wrote on its blog.
As part of the investment, Brooklyn and Carlsberg plan to build a “barrel-aging cellar, tasting rooms, and a restaurant to showcase the harmony of beer and food,” in addition to collaborating on various small-batch and experimental beers.
“Our vision of a worldwide network of excellent beer, food, family and friends is taking shape, and we can’t wait to share it with you,” Brooklyn wrote on its blog.
According to Robin Ottaway, Brooklyn’s interest in continuing to expand internationally allows the company to “get much more involved at a local community level,” rather than just being one of the most widely available U.S. craft beers in an overseas market.
“We like to be more than just an imported beer,” he wrote. “We find growing the two brand families together is very complementary.”
A press release with additional details is included below.
Carlsberg Group and Brooklyn Brewery to establish new brewery in Lithuania
The Carlsberg Group and Brooklyn Brewery are collaborating to establish a new brewery in Klaipėda, Lithuania, following recently announced joint ventures in Hong Kong and London.
The new brewery will be installed at the site of Švyturys Brewery, part of the Carlsberg Group, and will see its brewers collaborate with those from Brooklyn Brewery to create a range of small-batch classic and experimental beers.
The new range is scheduled to launch at the end of this year, following completion of the construction of the new Švyturys Brewery building.
Rolandas Viršilas, CEO of Švyturys-Utenos Alus, said:
“Brooklyn Brewery has become a synonym for high quality craft beer, and the fact that they are coming to work in Lithuania is evidence of our robust beer market and our passionate consumers.
“We have noticed that our consumers’ habits have been changing: the beer-drinking culture and the level of knowledge about beer is rising; and the demand is growing for diverse flavours and new, versatile beers. The partnership with Brooklyn Brewery will allow us to satisfy this growing demand by offering numerous new, exclusive and experimental beers”.
Eric Ottaway, CEO of Brooklyn Brewery, said:
“By investing in Klaipėda, we are expanding our collaboration with the Carlsberg Group in Europe, and we believe that our work with the Lithuanian brewers will help both parties to grow. We are equally excited to work closely with the great local beer enthusiast community, and look forward to exploring all kinds of new flavours together with them.”
This is the first investment by Brooklyn Brewery in Eastern Europe and represents its latest collaboration with the Carlsberg Group. In June, HK YAU – a new beer brand exclusive to Hong Kong was launched, while it was announced last week that Carlsberg UK has acquired London Fields Brewery, and will operate the business in a joint venture with Brooklyn Brewery.
Carlsberg and Brooklyn Brewery have also operated the E.C. Dahls brewery in Trondheim, Norway since 2016 and the New Carnegie Brewery in Stockholm, Sweden since 2012. The Carlsberg Group also distributes Brooklyn Brewery’s products in many of the markets in which it operates.